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FR2028 Skookumchuck Rd(sh)

The lower Salmon River Canyon and its ridges, defined by sweeping grassy surfaces, is a kind of Grand Canyon - if you like to bike on good dirt roads. Especially the area south around Grangeville has many big scenic climbs, one of them is even paved - not this one.

This is a plateau summit So the most scenic spots are somewhere along the upper approaches, not the summit itself.

1.(00.0m,1570ft)START-END WEST-1: FR2028 branches of US95 in Salmon River Canyon
2.(03.3m,2090ft)jct with FR463 on right
3.(06.5m,3230ft)jct with Fosket Grade Rd on left
4.(14.0m,5690ft)Shell's Lick intersection
6.(27.8m,2090ft)START-END WEST-2: same as point2


From North.
The Skookumchuck Road starts out paved and steep, as it climbs away from the narrow incised canyon of the Salmon River. When it turns to dirt it does so in a very civilized way, with just a thin layer of occasional small pebbles on a hard surface. After all - there is dentist located up here, according to the sign, and dental traffic requires a reasonable road.

The road finally leaves behind the residential and dental patient traffic, crosses the creek with the Indian name, and climbs up the northern side of the valley with a few switchbacks. A good workout later comes the junction with Fosskett Grade road. That option leads to Banner Ridge Summit and other points.

Following the option for Skookumchuck Rd for just a couple more miles, the road finally reaches forest, and crosses the National Forest boundary. The views reach out unto silvery meadows. On the other side of the ridge is the Hells Canyon area. These views only last a few miles before the road immerses itself again in heavy forest.

At a major intersection, at what seems like the top stands a sign: Shell's Lick. A number of roads with different usage patterns intersect here. Many go to other summit points, some have numbers, some are on maps. But no sign says where any of them might lead. Maybe the thinking behind this is: Try not to get people lost, by persuading them that the are already lost. Or maybe the reason for this lack of information are the budget cuts in an ugly and evil world.

The route to the summit point described here, turns a hard right onto FR2028 direction Dairy Mountain. The profile follows the main route around this mountain to a practically imperceptible summit point. There are other roads nearby, that lead a little higher with a little detour. My map labels one of them as Dairy Mountain Road.



From South. (described downwards) After a roll in the forest it turns out, that my choice of descend turns into FR463 Buefford Flat Rd. It has has a section of even better views than the other side, where the descend really starts to get steep. The reason for the relative exposure is, that this road is not following a creek but traverses the side of a hill. The steep multiangular surfaces of Summit Ridge on the other side of the Salmon River look like a completely vertical word. You can pick out around a dozen houses, dots that are almost too small to be recognizable, scattered on what seems like a wall of grass from this foreshortened viewing perspective. There must be roads to all of these houses.

FR463 passes its own group of settlements hidden in the forest nearby. This road merges back onto the Skookumchuch Creek Road.

Dayride with this point as highest summit:


( FR487 - Seven Devils Rd s(u) | Banner Ridge Rd(sh) > )
FR2028: Skookumchuch Creek Rd(sh) , Shell's Lick(sh): about a mile past NF boundary on Skookkumchuck Creek Rd > up Skookumchuck Rd > Shell's Lick(sh) <> down unmarked road going north << turnaround point ~900 ft below Shell's Lick where road takes on a very abandoned character >> up FR2028 > FR2028 Skookumchuck Rd(sh) > down FR463 Buefford Flat Rd > back up Skookumchuck Rd to starting point: 31.8miles with 4560ft of climbing in 4:16hrs (garmin etrex30 m5:17.7.9)
Notes: comfortable on top but a torturous heat getting back out ouf the canyon. 90s in the valleys. - shorter than the route originally planed.

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